Anxious residents worried about finding permanent housing have an extra 35 days to stay in their government trailers, according to a report in the Pensacola (Fla.) News Tribune.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) this week gave Florida residents still in a FEMA trailer or mobile home as a result of a 2004 hurricane until Oct. 31 to find permanent housing.
In Florida’s Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, that comes to 460 families who get a reprieve.
“I think it’s going to be very helpful,” said Jennifer Tweedy, program coordinator for Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida’s Homeward Bound program. “Just a little extra time is going to help us help people.”
Catholic Charities began Homeward Bound this year to help renters displaced by Hurricane Ivan get out of their FEMA trailers and into permanent housing. The extra time will help people finish paperwork to get out of temporary housing.
FEMA had given until Tuesday for families to vacate their trailers or face possible eviction. After first saying it was unlikely another extension would be granted, FEMA had a change of heart.
“The numbers statewide just aren’t as low as we wanted them to be,” FEMA spokeswoman Karen Szulczewski said. “We have a lot of families who are really close to finishing their home repairs.”
For those who didn’t have a home of their own before the storms, FEMA offers a purchase program. It allows trailer or mobile home occupants to buy their units, sometimes at a discounted price, depending on the age of the unit and family income.
The Panhandle accounts for about half of the nearly 300 units that have sold statewide, Szulczewski said.
FEMA also offers governments and charities the chance to own trailers at no cost, as long as they pay the insurance. The trailer then can be used for temporary housing.
No one’s taken advantage of that program yet, Szulczewski said.